Who should outsource disciplinary and grievance casework - and why?
The answer of course is – whoever needs to, and to put it another way, whoever would benefit from so doing.
Very small companies, with no dedicated HR resource rarely have the capacity or expertise to carry out effective investigations and hearings and appeals that their policies and handbooks will require. Tribunals expect different people of appropriate and escalating seniority to take the lead at each stage which is at best impractical and often simply not possible in a small company.
It is also common, nowhere more so than on a small island, for there to be complicating factors such as personal relationships affecting the situation or an inevitable over involvement at an early/informal stage ruling senior staff out of the formal processes due to a conflict of interest or simple lack of independence.
Even larger companies with their own HR team can encounter similar challenges. One of the factors that frequently trips up employers at Tribunals are cases where investigations just took too long and yet were also insufficiently thorough. We often find that the role of carrying out investigations or chairing hearings falls to a small number of usual suspects who tend to have very busy day jobs (and possibly are fee earners). They tend not to be afforded protected time for the investigation role which ends up being done “off the edge of the desk” when other priorities allow.
Frequently an HR team finds that they are unable to fulfill the advisory role required of them in formal processes because they have been over involved in early stages of situations that then tip over into formal processes. Another regular scenario is that the HR team may be swamped by BAU and/or special projects and lack the ability to move with the necessary pace and focus.
The bottom line for organisations of all shapes and sizes with varying levels of HR support, is that managing poor attendance, poor performance, misconduct, bullying and harassment and grievances is a serious and unwelcome distraction for the business and its senior staff.
So …… how does outsourcing help ?
- EXPERIENCE - unlike most line managers and many HR team members, the outsourced resource will be a specialist expert with huge experience of managing all kinds of casework across all sectors.
- INDEPENDENCE - the outsourced resource will have no previous involvement, no conflict of interest, no baggage with personalities or history.
- FOCUS – the casework in question IS the priority BAU for the outsourced resource during the assignment – an ability to focus on the case without distractions ensures momentum and pace.
- COST - Companies rarely measure the actual cost and opportunity cost of involving senior managers and HR staff in protracted and complicated, time consuming casework management – an outsourced solution invariably offers good value for money and a worthwhile return on investment.
- RISK MANAGEMENT – deployment of the experience, expertise, independence and focus referenced above considerably enhances the company’s position in regard to exposure to the risks associated with casework that goes badly wrong featuring in Employment Tribunals with the associated financial and reputational risks.
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